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not substantially affect his cause, we must dwell on this part of the subject. It indeed strikingly shows how great is the prevalent ignorance of ecclesiastical history, that it is possible to debate questions of so great magnitude concerning matter of fact; and we must confess that we have ourselves read professed refutations of our author, written with so much simple energy and hearty sincerity, with such an air of honest inquiry and moderation, as to stagger our own judgment. But as our opinion that he is nevertheless substantially right, must in itself be worthless to our readers, and as, within the limits here allowed, it is utterly impossible to offer any valid reinforcement of his statements, we have felt some hesitation what course to pursue. Our conclusion has been, that there is a great propriety in appealing in this matter to the testimony of Mosheim, and that for the following reasons.
No one can pretend that Mosheim is a new-fangled or lightminded writer. He has long been the favourite ecclesiastical historian of our high church divines, almost the only one recommended at our Universities by professors of divinity and bishops. Not only is his formal orthodoxy unimpeached; not only did he write before Rationalism was heard of, but—whatever plain truth he may himself tell against the Fathers and their times—he has yet anything but a leaning toward their opponents; on the contrary, he always shows extreme coldness, and, as many think, often undue asperity towards all whom the Fathers vituperate. In the later history, his authority is naturally less to be rested on; but as he dedicated a separate work to the affairs of Christians before Constantine the Great, on which he lavished prodigious care, examining details with a minute industry quite wonderful, we may rest assured that he is not likely to make rash and sweeping assertions without any evidence, in regard to the second and third century. He has never been a favourite with the English public; nor is it wonderful. The very qualities which have recommended him at our Universities,-his calm and solid learning, his cold orthodoxy, his systematic minuteness, his unbiographical generalizations,---have all forbidden that he should be interesting and popular. Moreover, the Latin language in which he wrote, has given to his style a Pagan tinge, wholly un-IIebraical and un-Pauline, which alienates the sympathies of Christian readers; and as if to make bad worse, his translator, Dr. Maclaine, has expanded it very injudiciously into what is yet more tumid and heartless. These things are unfortunate, for they have greatly conduced to make his history a sealed book to the public, abundantly accessible as it is. Nevertheless, as most of our readers who choose to refer to it, will doubtless have the opportunity, this is yet another reason with us for selecting
Mosheim rather than Milman, or any more recent German historian, to compare with Mr. I. Taylor.
The importance of the subject may justify us in abridging here (so as to let the reader see the substance or tendency of their contents) a large part of Mosheim's chapters concerning the internal state of the church in the second century. Our words are, as nearly as may be, taken from the text and margin of Maclaine's translation, that we may introduce as little as possible of our own.
Century II., Chap. 3.—' ). Primitive Christianity was extremely simple. The public teachers confined themselves to the Apostle's Creed for subjects, and avoided all that was beyond common capacities. -2. This did not last long; for a chimerical philosophy was imprudently incorporated with Christianity. This is to be ascribed, partly to an ambition to present the precepts of Christ in a form acceptable to philosophers and rabbins, partly in order to reply to infidels and heretics.—3. By way of illustration: one Platonic doetrine which in this century came in, is, the belief that only martyrs entered upon bliss immediately after death.—4. There was indeed laudable zeal for diffusing and interpreting the Holy Scriptures.-5. Yet we know with certainty that their expositions were very fanciful. They attributed a double sense to all the words of Scripture; treated the obvious and literal sense with the utmost neglect; and were more studious to darken the Holy Scriptures with their idle fictions, than to investigate their true sense. Clement of Alexandria is said to have been the first who perverted sacred writ to the support of the philosophy of the times.* _6. It is not possible to give any systematie account of the theological views prevalent in this century.-7. The controversial writers were less successful in unfolding the true nature and genius of Christianity, and in demonstrating its truth, than in overturning Paganism.-8. Though pious frauds had not yet become habitual, as afterwards, yet the arguments current were void of all solidity, proper only to dazzle the fancy. Instead of appealing to the Scriptures, they appeal to the decisions of bishops, or to the antiquity of a doctrine, or to the imaginary powers of mystic numbers. Nor do they seem to err, who allege that the vicious Economical system of disputation dates from this century'-[i.e., to use arguments adapted to convince the hearer, without any regard to the real validity of the argument, or truth of the facts assumed.]—-9, 10. As to the merit of the fathers as moral writers; if by a bad director in morals is meant one who has no determinate notion of the nature and limits of the duties incumbent upon Christians, no clear and distinct ideas of virtue and vice, who has not penetrated the spirit and GENIUS of those sacred books, to which alone we must appeal in every dispute about Christian virtue, and who consequently fluctuates often in uncertainty, or falls into
* This is exactly what Philo, an Alexandrian Jew, had done with the Old Testament.
error in explaining the divine laws, though he may frequently administer sublime or pathetic instructions; it must then be confessed that this title belongs to many of the fathers.-11. Morality and Christianity suffered deeply by a capital error unawares brought in in this century,—viz., a double rule of sanctity and virtue, as though Christ had one law for common men, another for those, who in a sacred retreat aspired after the glory of a celestial state.-12. This double doctrine produced numbers of ascetics, who professed to abstain from wine, flesh, matrimony, and commerce; to macerate the body by watchings, labour, and hunger; to live in privacy, and by meditation to raise the soul above external objects. Yet in this century they did not as yet retire into deserts, nor organize themselves into fraternities, though they wore a peculiar garb.-13. These absurdities were closely connected with principles of the Platonics and Pythagoreans, and flowed out of ideas adopted from them by the Christians concerning the nature of the soul, the influence of matter, the operations of invisible beings or demons, and the formation of the world.-14. This morose discipline had its rise in Egypt, thence passed into Syria, till in process of time, its infection reached Europe.-15. The Platonists and Pythagoreans held it to be even praiseworthy to propagate lies in the cause of truth and piety. The Jews who lived in Egypt, had received this maxim from them before the coming of Christ, as appears incontestably from a multitude of ancient records. From the same source flowed the great number of spurious books which were spread abroad in this and the following century; in the countenancing of which, it cannot be affirmed that true Christians were innocent.--16. Heinous crime kept increasing among professed Christians, in spite of church-censures.-17. Abandoning the simple primitive method, the bishops now new-modelled their rules of discipline after those of the heathen mysteries, adding a vast multitude of rites, so as apparently to sanctify a heathen superstition.'
Chap. 4.– 1. The Christian worship was in this century corrupted by the addition of many needless ceremonies to increase its pomp. 2. Partly from a desire to allure into the church Jews and heathens, who were accustomed to pomp in religious services.—3. Partly to refute the calumny of their being atheists.—4. Partly, from an abusive application of Jewish analogies.-5. Partly from an imitation of the heathen mysteries.—6. Also from adopting the symbolic method of teaching so common in the East, and more especially in Egypt.7. Lastly, by continuing practices which had been habitual to them as heathens,' &c. &c.
We need not quote any farther here; but we beg to call particular attention that all the above refers to the second century, and refers to matters which lie within one hundred years after the death of the last apostle. It is impossible to admit the facts without seeing how deep an inroad the Neo-Platonic philosophy was making on Christian sentiment; that it had pervaded the moral and spiritual feeling of the Christian leaders, and, in
short, that it was the movement of the age.
The excellent Dionysius of Corinth quietly dissuaded his brother bishops from an enforcement of the law of celibacy; and Clement of Alexandria upheld the claims of married life; but such remonstrances barely touched the surface of things. The mischief was this. The pagan idolatries alluded to in the standard classics led to a prohibition of their perusal, so that the Christians were debarred from the free and healthy exercise of mind which we now know how to value; on the other hand, those who aspired to be teachers, feeling the need of some intellectual cultivation, sought for it in what appeared to be the purest school,—viz., in those pagan philosophers who seemed to have a sort of spirituality. Thus the Neo-Platonic writers were fostered as a pet literature, specially edifying to the saints, just as · Rollin's History,' • Plutarch's Lives,' and Mrs. IIannah More's Dramas, to some young lady at a boarding-school. It is not wonderful that neither Ignatius nor Dionysius foresaw the mischief which was to come from this source; while as for Clement, he was second only in time to Justin, but hardly second in influence even to Origen, in spreading an esteem and love of the Neo-Platonic philosophy, out of which flowed a result which he deprecated. Seeing now the clear testimony of Mosheim, that even in the second century the doctrine was so widely spread, surely there is no cause to charge our present author with maintaining paradoxes or novelties, when he states that in the third and fourth centuries the evil had mounted to such a height, that the soundness and simplicity which characterize the apostolic notions of holiness were lost, and were replaced by a factitious sanctimoniousness.
His statements on the subjects are diffused over so wide a surface, that we feel it hard to please ourselves in extracts, yet the reader may have satisfaction in the following specimens:
Vol. i. p. 146, &c. ' Apart from an acquaintance with the history of that awful mistress of the ancient world, the ORIENTAL Theosophy, which, under a thousand changeful colours, held the religious mind in thrall during a period of two thousand years, -apart from this history we are neither qualified duly to estimate the divine excellence and purity of the Christian system, nor to render full justice to the orthodox early writers on account of their resistance to this captivating illusion, &c. This oriental theosophic sentiment consisted in, and produced a fatal misapprehension of ihe divine nature, or moral attributes of God; and its consequence was, to give a totally wrong direction to everything in theology or in worship that might come within its reach.' P. 150. (It taught,) · That the visible world, with its material elements and organized .... races,—is altogether unworthy of the Supreme and Infinite Power, or, as he was called, the Father Unknown, who is VOL. XII.
the source of minds, human and angelic. .... That this material world was in fact the work of inferior and imperfect beings, or of one such being,' &c. ....P. 151. On the contrary, Christianity exhibited the Supreme Being' as the antagonist neither of matter nor of the visible world, nor of what is simply finite and corruptible, but as the enemy of that only, which is morally evil. .... But in the other system, the antithesis of the infinite perfection, was the finite and corruptible material world. .... The course, therefore, to be pursued by man in extricating himself from his luckless position, and in getting clear of its accident, sin; was, by lofty contemplation, by habitual mental abstraction, and by disengaging himself, as far as possible, from the humiliating conditions of animal life, to facilitate, and in a sense to anticipate, his relapse into the infinite nature.'
The last sentence contains the principle, which appears to have been widely diffused among philosophic Christians in the third century, and which bore fruit a hundred fold and a thousand fold in the fourth and fifth. When the idea crept in, that God was the antagonist of matter, it was unavoidable to infer that animal existence was in itself a pollution; that fasting and abstinence from everything in which the flesh can have pleasure, had an intrinsic virtue and value ; in short, that by ceasing to be a man, and becoming a shaggy brute or a withered bag of bones, great approximation was made to the divine nature.
We have seen from Mosheim that these ascetic delusions were already spreading considerably in the second century; and as Egypt was their principal focus, the mischievous results were naturally manifested first in the African churches. Those who choose to refer to Mosheim's second chapter, sixth section, under the head of the third century, will find that he states even more broadly than Mr. Taylor does, that the fanatical or immoral union (whichever it was) between celibates and nuns had become a custom difficult to extirpate. In fact, it is long after complained of by Jerome, as existing at Rome in his own day, and was so deeply rooted as to be several times forbidden in synods. This fanaticism probably prevailed among the African churches first, but it was not confined to them ; in fact, it is alluded to as something well known, and without disapproval, in Hermas (III. 9 Simil. ii.), where the virgins say to him, “Thou shalt sleep with us as a brother, not as a husband,' &c. &c., which Gieseler (third edition of the German) regards as the first notice of the practice. He observes, also, that the Catholics are distinctly accused of it by Tertullian, De Jejuniis, c. 17, (which he quotes.). Having referred to Gieseler, (whose able work, at least in its American translation, is sufficiently well known in this country,) we may add his testimony from 9°46, that the violent